Understanding Your Water Meter

Reading your own water meter will allow you to check your water consumption, detect leaks, and learn which of your appliances and fixtures use excessive water. You can use this information to help you conserve water and money.

How to Read Your Meter

Your water meter is located in the ground, usually at the front of the property, inside a rectangular box with a heavy lid. To read your meter, you will need to lift the lid, and the lift cap on the dial if applicable to your meter. Clean the dial with window cleaner if it’s difficult to read.

Look for the small red triangle at the center of the meter. If the triangle is moving (or if there is no triangle but the sweep hand is moving), water is being using the house.

Your water meter reads like a car’s odometer, but with a permanent zero in the gallon place. Single gallons are counted by the red sweep hand. A complete revolution of this hand is 10 gallons and causes the register to move.

Leaks Waste Water

Please note- if the red triangle on your meter continues to turn when all water-using appliances (including the water heater, ice makers, and water softeners) are off or when your master supply valve is off, you have a leak.


Check all faucets and showerheads for leaks. If your showerhead is leaking, make sure it is screwed tightly and check the washer for wear. Repair leaking faucets by replacing washers and by tightening or repacking the faucet system.

Also, check all outside faucets and spigots. Use hose washers between spigots and water hoses to eliminate leaks. Replace or repair damaged or leaking hoses, nozzles, spigots, and connectors.


Many toilet leaks are obvious because the toilet runs, makes noise, or you can see movement in the toilet bowl between flushes. To test for a silent leak, drop a little food coloring into the tank (or use the leak detector tablets from the UC Water-Saving Kit). If you see food coloring in the bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak.

The rubber flush valve or “flapper” decompose over time. If black residue comes off when you touch the flapper, or it looks warped or disfigured, it’s time to replace it.

Other leaks

Malfunctioning water softeners, automatically filling swimming pools, water heaters and faulty irrigation valves are other areas where you might have a leak. If no obvious locations have leaks, and the red triangle is still moving, you may have an underground leak, foundation leak, or leak behind a wall and should call a plumber.

Free Low-Flow Showerhead & Water Saving Kit from the UC

If you are a UC water customer, you can bring your old 2.5 gpm (or greater) showerhead to the UC and get a water saving kit featuring a 1.25 gpm low-flow massaging shower head for free!

The kit also contains:

  • A 1.5 gpm dual-spray kitchen faucet aerator
  • Two 1 gpm bathroom faucet aerators
  • A toilet cycle diverter
  • A flow meter bag
  • Two leak detection tablets
  • Water conservation tip wheel

Water Saving Tips

The UC Water Saving Kit will help you reduce your water consumption in many areas of your home, including your shower, toilet, kitchen faucet, and bathroom faucet.

Other ways to save:

In the bathroom

A full tub typically holds 36 gallons. By filling the tub one-third full, you can save up to 24 gallons per bath

Most family members brush their teeth two times per day for an average of two minutes. Save water by turning off the faucet when brushing.

The best way to improve toilet efficiency is to replace an old toilet with a new toilet. Toilets made before 1993 use about 4 gallons per flush. New, high efficiency toilets use 1.6 gallons per flush or less.

If you are unable to replace your toilet, you can help your toilet use less water per flush by putting a plastic bottle full of water in your toilet tank. Add an inch or two of sand or pebbles inside the bottle to weigh it down, then fill the bottle with water, screw the lid on, and put it in your toilet tank safely away from operating mechanisms.


Save water in your pool by installing a cover and ensuring you have no leaks. Placing a cover over your pool will help reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation while increasing pool safety.